By Jason Llorenz, [email protected]
As Jonathan Linkous reports for the ihealthbeat blog, broadband-powered telehealth is moving closer to reality for those it stands to benefit most. While the benefits of telehealth and ehealth have been long touted by government, academic, community and medical leaders, several policy barriers remain to bringing the technology to benefit those suffering significant health disparities.
Latinos continue to suffer from health disparities that produce higher rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. These health disparities are associated with higher rates of morbidity and lessened quality of life.
Rural Latino communities pose particular barriers to care that increased use of telehealth can help to address. Many rural Latinos are mobile, and live farther away from quality care than those living in cities.
Those who qualify for insurance through Medicaid may have difficulty accessing care because of sheer distance. Telehealth can help to facilitate access to care and enhance the doctor-patient relationship, as the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators points out in its resolution.
Change is coming – as more states pass legislation allowing Medicaid reimbursement for services administered via telehealth. And proposed federal legislation may open telehealth-delivered services to coverage by federally sponsored insurance programs.
Wide availability of telehealth can lower barriers to health care access, drive efficiency and cost savings, and deliver more timely information to doctors treating patients with chronic disease. Policies that expand telehealth stand to benefit many communities, particularly hardest to treat Latinos.
This article was first published in [email protected].
Jason A. Llorenz, Esq. is an attorney, advocate and speaker whose work focuses on emerging communities and the policy issues facing the technology and innovation sectors. He serves as an Advisor to the Mobile Future Coalition. Follow on Twitter: @llorenzesq.[Photo by Tunstall Telehealthcare]